Kali Barnett – Democrat for U.S. House, Kansas District 1

Candidates

Responses below are from the candidates and have not been edited. The video above is an interview we had with the candidate. All candidates for a race who chose to respond were asked the same questions.

Biographical Information:

Education:

  • Born and raised in GC KS- attended public schools, graduated from GCHS in 2003
  • Attended Friends University from 2007-2008, graduated with high honors in 2008 with a Bachelor’s of Music, Music Education- Certified to teach PrK-12th Grade Vocal and Instrumental Music.
  • Attended Wichita State from 2009-2012- Masters of Music Education, Elementary Music Education- Minor in Music with Special Education. Graduated with High Honors.
  • Completed the Kodaly Music Education Certification Program- Levels 1, 2, and 3 from Wichita State University- 2019-2011.


Work Experience:

  • Psycho-Social Group Aide- Garden City Area Mental Health Center- 2004
  • Music Teacher- Wichita Public Schools- 2008-2014
  • Music Teacher & Music Teacher Mentor- Education Through Music- 2014-2016
  • Music Teacher- Manhattan Charter School- 2016-2017
  • Music Teacher- The Co-op School- 2017-2019
  • Kodaly Instructor- National Children’s Chorus- 2017-2019
  • CEO & Author- Sunflower Publications- 2014-Present

Video Extra: From the Candidate

Personal Information:

No response.

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

KaliForKansas.com
Facebook.com/KaliForKansas

What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?

I have attended BLM protests in Manhattan, Abilene, and Dodge City, and I have taught BLM curriculum in schools. We are at a critical and long overdue moment that transects social, economic, and political movements. This is an opportunity to use the energy of this global movement and make real lasting positive policy that will promote fairness and freedom to all American citizens. Additionally, we need to continue to fund the police while making sure our police departments are transparent and using best practices as should be laid out by federal and local governments. We must train police officers and community leaders to de escalate situations without violence or strong force. Lastly, we can’t forget that we should increase funding for community mental health and wellness programs. It’s unfair to expect our police to be both law enforcement and social workers.

What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?

Firstly, we as a nation must fully acknowledge the sins of our past. We also must recognize how these sins have created cycles of oppression that are still affecting communities today. We can’t solve the problem until we all recognize that the problem exists. Secondly, we need to listen more. When minority communities and communities of color speak out to tell us that something is hurting them, it is not our job to tell them that they are wrong; It is our job to listen to them so we can learn from their experience and enact policies that will positively affect their communities.

Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?

We have seen time and time again that the events in the George Floyd video are not an isolated incident. One thing we can do to keep these tragedies from happening again is to make sure we aren’t putting officers in situations they aren’t trained to handle. Right now, our officers are under enormous amounts of pressure, especially in our cities. Not only are we asking the police to enforce our laws and keep us safe, but we’re also asking them to be mental health professionals and social workers. We need to rethink the demands we put on our officers and increase funding so our police departments have access to the resources and training they need and to incentivize them to meet the high standards that our communities expect from their police.

What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?

The U.S. response to this pandemic has been consistently confused and at a delay with shutdowns and mask mandates largely being left up to individual states. Unfortunately, this virus does not recognize state borders. The U.S. needs a strong and uniform response from the Federal Government that relies on the guidance of experts in the field. We need a national strategy for testing and tracing so we can isolate cases and contain the spread. We also need specific safety guidelines for businesses to follow to ensure that reopening the economy won’t lead to another outbreak.

Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?

Right now, Americans need help. With millions still unemployed and small businesses on the verge of collapse, we have to take action to keep families afloat. More stimulus aid will ensure that small businesses can keep their doors open and employees on the payroll while also maintaining families’ ability to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. This must, however, be done responsibly. Years of unbalanced budgets make the prospect of more borrowing alarming, but deficit spending in this time of crisis is necessary to keep our economy on track. Going forward, we must reevaluate our tax policy to ensure that corporations and the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share. A modest tax increase for the top 1% and closing corporate loopholes would generate enough funds to be able to pay for many of the emergency programs being passed and will help us balance the budget in the coming years.

What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention in Washington and what action would you take on them, including how you’d compromise with members of the other party?

#1 Education Funding:
Congress must ensure that our public schools are fully funded. While I understand the importance of choice, using federal dollars to incentivize private education is unfair to families who do not have access to that choice. Most rural students attend public schools as do most students from low-income families. Those students should not have the quality of their education reduced simply because metropolitan and wealthier families have the luxury of choice. I will work with colleagues in both parties to find ways to fully fund public schools while still protecting the freedom of educational choice.

#2 Agriculture
Even before the pandemic, our farmers were hurt by the trade wars and retaliation to tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration. Farmers deserve fair markets and fair prices and should not be punished for the reactionary policies of their leaders. I recognize that many other districts with large populations of farmers are represented by Republicans. I will listen and learn from them and their experiences so we can enact policies that protect all farmers.

#3 Healthcare
After the Affordable Care Act passed many states decided to opt out of Medicaid Expansion. Now, as millions of Americans lose access to employer-provided health insurance, those states are beginning to see the need for expanding Medicaid, including Kansas. In Washington, I will work with both parties at the federal and local levels to find ways to further incentivize these states to expand Medicaid as we build on the foundations of the Affordable Care Act and transition to a more inclusive healthcare system.

Do you believe our healthcare system needs to be reformed? If so, what will you do to change it?

Now more than ever we’re seeing the problems of our current healthcare system, especially in regard to accessibility. As millions of Americans lost their jobs during the pandemic, they also lost access to their employer-provided healthcare coverage. This has left many families with few options during a health crisis when they’ve never needed healthcare more. I’ve been without health insurance and know how scary that can be. The Affordable Care Act expanded accessibility allowing many Americans the opportunity to purchase healthcare—many for the first time—but it did not solve every issue. We must build on the current system and move towards a robust public option, so every Kansan has access to quality, affordable healthcare regardless of their employment status.

Give us your stance on gun control/2nd Amendment rights.

The 2nd Amendment guarantees Americans’ right to own firearms, and that right is not going anywhere. That right does, however, come with responsibilities. As a nation we must enact sensible measures to keep firearms out of the hands of people who would use them to do harm. This includes universal background checks, cracking down on the illegal sale of firearms, and reevaluating the gun show loophole. Common sense gun control legislation will keep families safe by keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them and would do so without punishing gun owners who safely and responsibly exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.

Do you think we need immigration reform and what changes would you support?

The time for immigration reform is long overdue. America has always been a nation that thrives on the ingenuity and contribution of immigrants. But their contributions to our society are more than just economic. They bring with them a cultural richness and humanity that have benefited our communities for centuries. In order to continue to support immigrants, immigration reform must include a more accessible and affordable path to citizenship both for newcomers and immigrants who may already be here. Reform must also include permanent support for DREAMers.

What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?

In recent years we have seen increased threats in the form of cyber-attacks. Most notably, many of these attacks have been carried out with the aim of undermining our electoral process. The Federal Government must act to maintain American’s cyber-security and the public’s faith in our democracy.

What are your thoughts on climate change? What should Congress do about it, if anything?

Experts agree that climate change is a very real threat and that we have a very limited window in which to act. Now is the time to support ingenuity as we look for alternatives to nonrenewable resources. We must also make sure that farmers are at the forefront of this conversation as they are already experiencing the effects of climate change.

We as a nation also need a thoughtful and robust plan to transition oil and coal workers into 21st century renewable energy jobs. Congress must support these workers as their industries pivot and provide funding for training and new opportunities in the energy industry.

Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?

Generally speaking, the deficit has grown too much these last four years under the watch of Republicans in the executive branch and the Senate. We must be mindful to not spend beyond our means. That said, there are instances in which deficit spending is necessary, which is what we are seeing with the current pandemic relief bills. This spending must be offset, however, by overhauling our tax code to ensure that the wealthiest Americans are paying their fair share so that we do not increase the nation’s debt with unnecessary tax cuts for those who do not need them.

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